Mrs Vardy, the wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, is suing Wayne Rooney’s wife over her claim in 2019 that Mrs Vardy had been leaking ‘false stories’ about her private life to journalists from The Sun newspaper.
Mrs Rooney was nicknamed Wagatha Christie after staging an elaborate sting operation in which she posted made-up personal titbits on social media to a diminishing number of people and, eventually, she believed, solely to Mrs Vardy.
She then waited for them to appear as news stories. Mrs Vardy denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.
Here, FEMAIL looks back at everything you need to know ahead of the trial…
Here, FEMAIL looks back at everything you need to know ahead of this week’s trial…
How did it all unfold?
Coleen Rooney pictured as she arrived for the Tanya Beardsley’s Mental Mummies Charity Lunch at The Bridge in Cheshire, last month, left, and right, Rebekah Vardy pictured at the 23rd National Television Awards in London in 2019
On October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney, now 36, accused Rebekah Vardy, 40, of leaking ‘false stories’ about her to the press.
She explained that she had posted a series of fake stories about herself to her personal Instagram account.
Three stories had been shared with The Sun newspaper – including one about travelling to Mexico to find out about gender selection, another regarding a return to TV and a final story about the basement flooding at her new home.
Hoping to find the account responsible for sharing these false stories, Mrs Rooney explained that she had changed the privacy settings of her posts so it was visible to just one person’s account – Mrs Vardy’s.
Mrs Rooney’s social media post revealing her operation quickly led to her being labelled ‘Wagatha Christie’ in a nod to the renowned British crime author Agatha Christie.
‘For a few years now someone who I trusted to follow me on my personal Instagram account has been consistently informing The SUN newspaper of my private posts and stories.
‘There has been so much information given to them about me, my friends and my family — all without my permission or knowledge. After a long time of trying to figure out who it could be, for various reasons, I had a suspicion.
‘To try and prove this, I came up with an idea. I blocked everyone from viewing my Instagram stories except ONE account. (Those on my private account must have been wondering why I haven’t had stories on there for a while.)
On October 9, 2019, Coleen Rooney, now 36, accused Rebekah Vardy, 40, of leaking ‘false stories’ about her to the press in an Instagram post (above)
Shortly after Mrs Rooney’s public accusation, Mrs Vardy – who was pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time – denied any involvement (above)
‘Over the past five months I have posted a series of false stories to see if they made their way into the Sun newspaper. And you know what, they did! The story about gender selection in Mexico, the story about returning to TV and then the latest story about the basement flooding in my new house.
‘It’s been tough keeping it to myself and not making any comment at all, especially when the stories have been leaked, however I had to. Now I know for certain which account/individual it’s come from. I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them.
Who is Caroline Watt? Former Virgin Atlantic hostess credited with boosting her friend Rebekah Vardy’s profile
Caroline Watt is a former Virgin Atlantic air hostess who has been Rebekah Vardy’s agent for the past seven years, helping to build her profile in the national media.
Reports that she no longer represents her following the current controversy engulfing the two have been dismissed as inaccurate with Ms Watt remaining close to Ms Vardy both professionally and personally.
Ms Watt, 39, is married to former footballer Steve Watt, who played briefly for Chelsea, making one Premier League appearance for two minutes in 2005 and Swansea City. He is currently manager of Kent non-league side Hythe Town and they have two children.
After leaving the airline industry, Ms Watt began working as an agent in the world of entertainment, quickly developing a reputation for her communication skills and ability to network.
She was formerly employed by talent agency The Frontrow Partnership but left in 2019 to go it alone and took her main client and close friend, Ms Vardy with her.
Ms Watt has been credited with building Ms Vardy’s public profile by ensuring that she regularly featured in the national media and also brokered the deal for her to appear on the hit reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2018.
Ms Watt started representing the high-profile WAG in 2015, when her husband, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy shot to fame.
She is a regular visitor to the Vardy’s Lincolnshire home and also socialises with Ms Vardy, attending glitzy parties and bars.
Her other clients include the former Page 3 girl Nicola McLean but it is Ms Vardy that has been the biggest asset in her career as an agent.
‘It’s………. Rebekah Vardy’s account.’
But shortly after Mrs Rooney’s public accusation, Mrs Vardy – who was pregnant and on holiday in Dubai at the time – denied any involvement.
She hit back on social media, writing: ‘As I have just said to you [Rooney] on the phone, I wish you had called me if you thought this.
‘I never speak to anyone about you, as various journalists who have asked me to over the years can vouch for. If you thought this was happening you could have told me and I could have changed passwords to see if it stopped.
‘Over the years various people have had access to my Insta and just this week I found out I was following people I didn’t know and have never followed myself. I’m not being funny but I don’t need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you?’
But in April, Mrs Vardy sensationally appeared to accept that her agent had been leaking stories about Mrs Rooney in a dramatic development to the ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel battle, the High Court heard.
In documents submitted to the court, Mrs Rooney’s legal team claimed Mrs Vardy’s case had ‘collapsed’ after an ‘abrupt change of position to her pleaded case’ following a second statement made by her in which she alleged that her agent and close friend Caroline Watt had leaked stories to The Sun.
The document compiled by Mrs Rooney’s lawyers David Sherborne and Ben Hamer, and seen by the Hight Court, states: ‘The collapse of Mrs Vardy’s case over the last day has been remarkable.
‘As of the evening of 27 April 2022, in an abrupt change of position to her pleaded case since the outset, Mrs Vardy appears now to accept Mrs Rooney’s case: that Caroline Watt, Mrs Vardy’s close friend and PR, was the conduit by which stories from the Defendant’s Private Instagram Account were leaked to The Sun through her access via Rebekah Vardy’s account (@beckyvardy).’
It adds: ‘It is only now-over two weeks later and on the eve of trial-that Mrs Vardy has been forced to come clean.’
The High Court in London has also heard that Ms Watt is not fit to give oral evidence to the trial.
Mrs Rooney’s lawyers previously claimed that Mrs Vardy had leaked information to The Sun either directly or through Ms Watt ‘acting on her instruction or with her knowing approval’.
Ms Watt was referred to at an earlier hearing after the High Court in London heard that WhatsApp messages between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt had been disclosed.
Texts heard in court included Mrs Vardy referring to someone, whose identity is disputed, as a ‘nasty b****’.
Ms Vardy’s legal team say Ms Watt is in a ‘fragile state’ and has been expressing concerns about giving evidence.
They have asked the judge for Ms Watt’s statement to be admitted as ‘hearsay’ evidence, so that she does not have to appear in person, following the 11th hour psychiatric report.
Drama: As their legal battle raged, it was also argued that Caroline (pictured January 2019) had acted as a ‘conduit’
What is the core issue at the centre of the case?
Mrs Rooney publicly claimed her fellow footballer’s wife shared the fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun.
Mrs Vardy denies the accusations and is suing Mrs Rooney for libel.
What are the possible outcomes of the trial?
Even if Mrs Rooney’s legal team successfully makes its case, The Times suggest that the footballer’s wife may still have to pay some of the legal costs.
Meanwhile, if Mrs Vardy wins, she could be awarded paltry damages – with judges having been known to previously award a plaintiff an award of just £1 if they believe reputational damage has been little.
How much is being spent?
The final legal bill for the High Court battle could reach as high as £3million, sources have claimed.
‘The costs of a case like this are enormous but not entirely unexpected if both women are refusing to back down,’ a legal source told The Mirror.
Who are the lawyers in the libel trial?
Hugh Tomlinson QC (pictured), who is representing Ms Vardy, is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in a wide-spanning career
Meanwhile, David Sherborne (pictured), 53, who has been dubbed one of Hollywood’s favourite lawyers, is acting for Mrs Rooney
Hugh Tomlinson QC, who is representing Ms Vardy, is a top-flight privacy silk who has launched a number of battles with the Press in a wide-spanning career.
The Leeds-born, Oxford-educated lawyer last year advocated successfully in a claim against a journalist and author after she made false allegations that Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC on Vladimir Putin’s orders.
He was one of several lawyers representing Russian oligarchs whose ethics were questioned in parliament by the Conservative MP Bob Seely following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The lawyer was on the side of Jeremy Clarkson’s ex-wife Alex Hall when he tried to – but dropped – efforts to stop her claiming they had an affair during his later marriage.
He also successfully represented Prince Charles as the royal sought to stop the publishing of his Hong Kong travel diaries, saying public interest justifications were ‘far-fetched’.
And in an earlier case, he won substantial damages for Christopher Jefferies after press coverage incorrectly associated him with the murder of his tenant Joanna Yeates in 2010.
A year later he co-founded Hacked Off, the group campaigning for tighter media regulation, which he now chairs, and which has backers such as Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan.
Tomlinson was born in Woodhouse in Leeds where he went to Leeds Grammar School and then Balliol College, Oxford, leaving with the top first in PPE.
He then took up philosophical studies at Sussex University before going to the University of Paris in 1977. In 2000 he was a founding member of Matrix Chambers in London.
Meanwhile, David Sherborne, 53, who has been dubbed one of Hollywood’s favourite lawyers, is acting for Mrs Rooney.
He was lead counsel for victims of press intrusion in the Leveson inquiry, and represented Johnny Depp in his libel suit against The Sun. In November 2020, the High Court ruled that Depp had lost his case.
In September 2020, Sherborne was dropped from the Duchess of Sussex’s legal team in her case against The Mail on Sunday following an early setback.
Sherborne’s previous clients also include Diana, the late Princess of Wales, Melania Trump, Sir Paul McCartney, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss and Harry Styles.
His father was a QC, but while he comes from a legal family, he is seen as a ‘rebel’ in many ways due to his apparent fondness for the limelight.
A former colleague told The Times: ‘He likes to present a fun, outgoing persona and is very limelight-seeking. All the other barristers in chambers were hyper-critical of him breaking the rules.’
Who is the judge?
Mrs Justice Steyn (above) – who during her long legal career has been engaged in such weighty cases as Guantanamo Bay prisoners and Saudi arms deals – is presiding over the Wagatha Christie libel trial
Mrs Justice Steyn – who during her long legal career has been engaged in such weighty cases as Guantanamo Bay prisoners and Saudi arms deals – is presiding over the Wagatha Christie libel trial.
Described as ‘formidable and exceptionally intelligent’, she is the daughter of former Law Lord, Lord Steyn.
And those who have attended preliminary hearings have seen hints of frustration in Dame Karen, possibly mirroring a wider incredulity that Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy could be spending millions over their dispute.
Dame Karen was born in South Africa but grew up in Britain where she attended Tonbridge Grammar School in Kent and Liverpool University.
Now 51, she was appointed a High Court judge in 2019, becoming a dame in the same year.
She was the only one of that year’s High Court intake not to have attended Oxbridge.
She previously said: ‘Before I started my career I certainly had a perception of barristers as all fitting a particular mould, one that I knew I did not fit, and it took a little while for me to appreciate that there is no mould.’
Who is on Team Coleen?
Mrs Rooney has been publicly supported by Danielle Lloyd (pictured), who came forth with similar claims about Mrs Vardy leading to a row between the duo on social media in 2019
Mrs Rooney thanked her fans and said there ‘are a lot of really good people’ in the world in an Instagram story in February 2022.
And along with her devoted fans, the WAG has also been publicly supported by Danielle Lloyd, who came forth with similar claims about Mrs Vardy leading to a row between the duo on social media in 2019.
Mrs Lloyd made a thinly-veiled dig at Mrs Vardy after weighing in on the Mrs Rooney row during an episode of This Morning.
The TV personality detailed her ‘similar run-ins’ with the footballer’s wife, before Mrs Vardy claimed Mrs Lloyd was only upset because she didn’t ‘recruit’ one of Jamie’s footballer pals for her after her divorce from Jamie O’Hara
This came amid reports that many of the WAGs had distanced themselves from Mrs Vardy at the time and were busy ‘scrutinising’ past conversations with her, following the fallout from her feud with Mrs Rooney.
Following Mrs Lloyd’s appearance on This Morning, Mrs Vardy was quick to retaliate, as she took to Twitter to claim that the TV personality’s admission was ‘utter b******s’ and their feud was sparked by her refusal to try and find Mrs Lloyd a man following her split from Jamie [O’Hara].
She wrote: ‘Danielle Lloyd making false claims on @thismorning that we have had ‘similar run-ins’ is utter b****cks. She is just fuming that I ‘didn’t get Jamie recruiting’ for her like she asked me to…’
Who is on Team Rebekah?
Fellow WAG Nicola McLean (pictured right in 2018) has seemingly thrown her support behind Mrs Vardy several times – once stating that Mrs Rooney is ‘not as private’ as she is considered while also insisting Mrs Vardy is not interested in the fame game
Fellow WAG Nicola McLean has seemingly thrown her support behind Mrs Vardy several times – once stating that Mrs Rooney is ‘not as private’ as she is considered while also insisting Mrs Vardy is not interested in the fame game.
Nicola is married to Tom Williams, who now plays for Hashtag United of the Essex Senior League. Tom is a defender and midfielder and made nearly 300 appearances in the Football League playing for numerous clubs, including QPR and West Ham.
The I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here star, who has been married to Tom since 2009, told Closer Magazine in 2020: ‘I’ve had different experiences at different clubs but the WAG world can be a b****y mean girls like existence…
‘There can be rivalry and unfriendliness with someone in the group and the top dog and there can be a lot of drama. It isn’t just amazing holidays and designer clothes there can be a lot of behind-the-scenes politics between the girls.’
On some of the most famous WAGS, she went on: ‘A lot of women want to emulate Victoria Beckham, Alex Gerrard, Elen Rivas – they dine out on the fact they’re a WAG and it can consume you.’
Nicola then pointed out that it is not all it seems with Mrs Vardy and Mrs Rooney: ‘I know some WAGs will only be interested in the hierarchy, fame and drama but I don’t believe Rebekah is like that. She’s not fussed about the press or limelight.
‘Everyone thinks Coleen is really private – but remember she’s done countless interviews, books and even her own TV show.’
What have their husbands had to say about it?
Vardy (left, with her husband Jamie) is suing Coleen Rooney (right, with husband Wayne Rooney) for libel
The husbands – who last played together for England in 2016 – have kept mostly silent on the clash, reported The Times.
However, Wayne did note in his Sunday Times column before last year’s European championships that he would have drafted Jamie Vardy into the England team.
He added: ‘Some people may be surprised at this, especially with the legal case between my wife and Jamie’s wife.’
Wayne is to give evidence in the libel trial against Rebekah Vardy, MailOnline revealed last month.
The former Premier League and England striker will take to the witness stand at London’s High Court where he will be questioned under oath over how much he knew about his wife’s ‘Wagatha Christie’ investigation.
A source close to the case told MailOnline: ‘Wayne is 100 per cent going into the witness box and this is just going to add to the drama of the whole occasion. Hugh Tomlinson is a very experienced barrister, and this could be one of the toughest opponents Wayne has ever faced.
‘Rebekah’s lawyers are adamant that he should be cross examined under oath about how much he knew about what Coleen was getting up to and that the truth will emerge.’
Ms Rooney has always maintained that nobody was aware of her ‘sting operation’ when she decided to post a number of fake Instagram stories and eventually limit who could see them to just Ms Vardy. Three of these were later published in The Sun and are at the centre of the sensational libel battle.
But Ms Vardy’s lawyers insist that several people could have been the source of the leaks and that Ms Rooney told Wayne and others about what she was getting up to while also sharing details of the false posts with them.
In addition to giving evidence, Wayne, the former Manchester United striker who is currently manager of Derby County, is also expected to accompany his wife when she attends the High Court for the trial, which is expected to last a week.
Meanwhile, when Rebekah furiously denied the allegation in a lengthy Twitter statement, her husband showed his support by liking her post.
How will this impact their reputations?
Coleen Rooney (pictured) let out any pre-trial nerves with a boxing workout on Monday morning, 24 hours before her High Court showdown with Rebekah Vardy kicks off
Coleen and Wayne fear their reputations will be ‘shredded’ in the Wagatha Christie libel trial, according to The Daily Mail.
Sources close to the couple claimed they are worried that details of hitherto unreported scandals involving Rooney allegedly drinking and womanising may emerge in court.
The fear is that Mrs Vardy’s legal team will turn the tables on Rooney himself.
The couple are concerned they could face questions about their own relationship with journalists amid claims that stories about Derby County manager Rooney’s supposed indiscretions were ‘hushed up’.
He has been the subject of a series of scandals involving his private life, including reports that he used prostitutes when Mrs Rooney was pregnant.
The former Manchester United and England star was banned from driving in 2017 for two years after being stopped by police while three times the drink-drive limit. One passenger was a young woman he had met in a bar.
And last year he was pictured apparently asleep in a hotel room with a model and her friends after a night out.
A friend of the couple said of the trial: ‘This trial is a slow-motion train crash and at this point it’s probably too late to stop it from happening.
‘The fear is it’s going to shred the Rooneys’ reputation as well as the Vardys. It is a disaster in the making but the momentum is now such that it seems too late to stop it.’
The source added: ‘It’s already emerged that Becky allegedly set up pictures of herself with newspapers and that she and her agent talked about other potential deals in which they would give stories for money.
‘There may be more allegations along similar lines to come out so the case will be bad for her reputation.’
Will Coleen and Rebekah share their stories on TV?
The Mail on Sunday reported that Mrs Rooney (pictured in February 2022) has signed a deal to make a documentary. Filming is thought to have already started and it is believed that the show will air on streaming giant Netflix
Following this week’s High Court showdown, Coleen and Rebekah are both poised to tell their side of the story on TV.
The Mail on Sunday reported that Mrs Rooney has signed a deal to make a documentary. Filming is thought to have already started and it is believed that the show will air on streaming giant Netflix.
Meanwhile, the publication said that Mrs Vardy is believed to be in negotiations with Piers Morgan for an interview on his new chat show on Talk TV.
Sources said both women could pocket six-figure sums for spilling details of their battle.
Mother-of-four Mrs Rooney is said to be working with Dorothy Street Pictures, the company behind the much anticipated Pamela Anderson documentary which will be shown on Netflix.
A source said: ‘Coleen has done the clever thing and got in to tell her story before someone else muscles in.
‘She will be really hands-on and wants to tell the truth about what went on. Filming started a few weeks ago and there is huge excitement around it.
‘The programme is most definitely going in the direction of Netflix. It will be classy, and speak from the heart.
‘There were various offers and discussions about who would make this documentary but Coleen loved that Dorothy Street is run by women.’
Mrs Vardy, meanwhile, is said to be in talks with Morgan’s team for a lucrative tell-all interview.
One insider said: ‘Becky knows what this is worth. While nothing has been signed yet the deal is as good as done. Piers is not going to let this go elsewhere. He is very much in pole position.’
Why is the case coming to court now?
News that Mrs Vardy would be taking Mrs Rooney to court wasn’t shared until June 2020, despite the social media post which sparked the case being released in October 2019.
During this time, Vardy gave birth to her daughter Olivia Grace on December 28 2019.
In November 2020, Mr Justice Warby ruled in favour of Mrs Vardy proceeding with the case after the libel preliminary hearing at the High Court.
Neither of the footballer wives were at the court in person and Mrs Rooney was ordered to pay Mrs Vardy just under £23,000 in court costs.
Following attempts to mediate the case, plus pre-trial hearings days, the case is now coming to court.
When is the trial?
The trial will start tomorrow and is scheduled to last for six days at the High Court in London.
Source: Daily Mail Femail